Unit 10 Key Concepts

  • Martin Luther

    Luther was a German monk who disagreed with many facets of the Roman Catholic Church.  In 1517 he posted his 95 Theses, or complaints, about the Church. Among these were the sale of indulgences, greed, corruption and the involvement of the Church in secular (non-religious) affairs, such as economics and, politics. His writing became the basis for a reform movement within the Roman Catholic Church known as the Protestant Reformation.

    Protestant Reformation

    A reform movement led by individuals who agreed with Luther. The reformers became known as Protestants (protesters). They developed their own religious concepts and formed many new churches across Europe. The Protestant Reformation was, at times, a bloody conflict. 

    New faiths emerged—Lutherans, Protestants, Calvinists, Unity of Brethren, Free Christians

    Printing Press—The Protestant Reformation was aided by the development of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1440, which used movable type to create books.  This new invention made mass production of books possible.  Consequently, it drove down the cost of books, making them more easily accessible to millions of people.  In turn, this led to increased literacy rates across Europe and, eventually, around the globe.  The printing press was utilized during the Protestant Reformation to spread the messages of Martin Luther and his supporters.


    The Counter-Reformation was the Roman Catholic Church's response to the Protestant Reformation. The purpose of the Counter/Catholic Reformation was to end corruption, return to traditional teachings, and to strengthen the church in an attempt to stop its members from converting. Pope Paul III called the Council of Trent in 1545 to institution these reforms. The Council setup new schools for priests, ended most corruption, and created new religious orders to deal with these problems.

    King Henry VIII

    King Henry VIII of England sought an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. When the Pope refused he broke the country of England away for the Roman Catholic Church. He formed the Church of England (Anglican Church). Through the Acts of Supremacy, he established himself as both the political and spiritual leader of England.

    ***Overall, the Protestant Reformation led to a dramatic decrease in the authority of the Roman Catholic Church. Additionally, it led to the creation of numerous churches in Europe as well as increased literacy rates.